Can You Get a Texas DWI from (Legal) Prescription Use?

June 15, 2022

The Answer Is Yes

In a recent post, we explained that someone who uses marijuana can be arrested for driving while intoxicated (DWI), just as someone can get a DWI from alcohol. Further, we talked about how certain procedural issues are different for a cannabis-related DWI, but the seriousness of the charge is no different. (That’s why it is so important to get experienced criminal defense counsel—such as the Law Office of Kenneth W Mullen PC—as soon as possible.) The same principle also applies to drivers who use prescription drugs. They, too, can find themselves with a DWI charge.

All it takes to get a DWI charge is for the police to decide your driving was sufficiently impaired due to your use of that drug. If your use resulted in “not having the normal use of mental or physical faculties” while driving, then you can get a DWI.

If you are stunned by the idea that you could get arrested for following your doctor’s orders and the manufacturer’s instructions while using a legal drug, we understand. But then, remember that using alcohol is legal. And your favorite beer manufacturer probably warns you about how much consumption is safe, and they admonish you not to drink and drive.

So for a DWI prosecution, the issue is not if your use of the drug is legal. The issue is only if your driving is impaired because of that use. (Of course, if someone uses a prescription drug without the required prescription—perhaps using a forged script or purchasing stolen drugs—that could result in additional charges.)  

And just as with pot-related DWIs, there’s no blood alcohol concentration measurement that will be considered automatically over or under the legal limit. There’s no breath test that will condemn or clear you.

Therefore, the prosecution of these cases is more dependent on the police’s assessment of your driving.

And the defense of these cases may become dependent on expert witnesses and medical professionals—to explain why your particular reaction to the drug’s effects was unforeseeable. Perhaps the warning label wasn’t correct, or your prescription was incorrectly filled. The facts will dictate the exact strategy, but the point is that these cases are more complex than the defense of an alcohol-related DWI.

If you have been arrested for any DWI—alcohol, cannabis, or even prescription drugs—these cases can be surprising and complicated. But there’s no surprise that the consequences can be life-changing. Don’t wait. Call the Law Office of Kenneth W Mullen today at (817) 341-4848 or contact us online for a free consultation.


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